From Dallas, Texas
Despite the fact that he never threw a pass, tackled the quarterback or scored a touchdown, I think Ed Sabol deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and I plan to vote for him Saturday morning.
There will be a great deal of discussion on Sabol and whether or not he’s worthy of Hall of Fame status for his skills involving the game of football. I guarantee it, because I’ve been holding those discussions with myself for the better part of the last month.
There is no question about Sabol’s skill and his impact on the game. With the help of his son Steve, the Sabol’s elevated the game to dramatic and comic heights never seen before around the game. He was a pioneer in developing equipment to capture the pictures on film and the sounds on tape. If you are under 60 years of age, there’s a very good chance that your memories of the NFL have come through the lens of NFL Films.
But is that worth of a spot in the Hall of Fame in Canton? As part of the 44-person Board of Selectors, we have a constant battle of dealing with worthy candidates and not enough spots for them to land in the hallowed Hall.
If Sabol goes in, that means a player will be left out. I can tell you that of the 14 modern era players on the ballot, all will one day be in the Hall of Fame. But the election of Sabol means one of those men will have to wait another year.
There are other avenues to address contributors to the game like Ed Sabol, but those are not part of the current equation. So the 94-year old contributor joins a group of players that are young enough to be his grandsons.
As the meeting begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday at the Dallas Sheraton Hotel, I have only five for sure votes and two of those are seniors candidates Chris Hanburger and Les Richter. I think both of those men were the type of players that helped lay the foundation for the league and where it sits today. I vote yes on both.
Here’s how I would rank the 15 modern-era candidates, in order:
- Marshall Faulk
- Deion Sanders
- Ed Sabol
- Willie Roaf
- Richard Dent
- Andre Reed
- Shannon Sharpe
- Dermontti Dawson
- Curtis Martin
- Cris Carter
- Jerome Bettis
- Chris Doleman
- Charles Haley
- Cortez Kennedy
- Tim Brown
If my top five are the final five in the overall balloting, then I’m voting yes on all five for induction. My rankings are not based on any scuttlebutt heard during the week about how other voters might vote. If I was predicting Saturday’s voting action, I would probably shuffle that ranking of 15 names a bit.
Here are my individual thoughts about each candidate:
FAULK – was the engine of the most prolific offense in the NFL for a period of five years, including a Super Bowl title and an appearance in another championship game. He was an outstanding runner and receiver, not only with the Rams but before that with the Colts.
SANDERS – is without a doubt one of the finest cover cornerbacks in the history of the game, as well as one of the best punt returners. His penchant for avoiding contact on the corner and providing support for the running game is troublesome, but he’s so good in the other areas.
ROAF – is one of the few players in NFL history to win recognition as part of two different team of the decades, making the 1990s team as part of the Saints and the 2000s team as part of the Chiefs. There are no negatives with Willie, only areas that may not be strong enough compared to others, like participation in the playoffs and championships.
DENT – has waited long enough. The Hall voters need to provide relief and get more defensive players in because the difference in numbers has reached ridiculous levels. After Sanders, Dent is the best defensive player on the board. He has the numbers, the production and participation with two Super Bowl clubs in the bears and 4
REED – needs some luck if he’s going to breakthrough this season. His numbers alone will not get his ticket punched for Canton but it helps his cause to have played in four Super Bowls and with a winning team like Buffalo. He was the Bills clutch receiver.
SHARPE – is going to make the Hall of Fame, but it may have to be a perfect storm for him to get in. Tight end has never been that popular of a position and while he won Super Bowls with both the Broncos and Ravens, that’s no luck.
DAWSON – is one of those talented blockers who live on the line between very good and great. He’s going to get in some day, but the stars will have to be aligned to make it happen.
MARTIN – achieved things in his career that are remarkable, and if Faulk was not in the class, Martin may have been the man. He’ll get support from the New York-Boston corridor. No question he’s deserving of consideration and ultimate induction. He just may take some heat off and undid Mike Shannias.
CARTER – has huge numbers, but I ask this – who can name his signature catch, the one time he pulled down the ball and it rode off to infamy.
BETTIS-DOLEMAN-HALEY-KENNEDY-BROWN – Worthy of consideration but not election.
NFL PERSONNEL FILE FOR FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 4
- ASSOCIATED PRESS – named Rams QB Sam Bradford the offensive rookie of the year and Lions DT Ndamukong Sue the defensive rookie of the year.
- 49ERS – promoted Tom Gamble to director of player personnel. Previously, Gamble had served as the leader of the pro football side of the personnel department last season; named Reggie Davis tight ends coach; named Peter Hansen defensive quality control coach.
- STEELERS – C Maurkice Pouncey will not play in Sunday’s Super Bowl because of an ankle/foot injury.